Valley Park is a development of 4,400 houses between Didcot and Harwell. The change in road layout proposed for the roundabout on the road from Harwell to Didcot is so unfriendly for walkers and cyclists that it is bound to increase reliance on cars.
What’s wrong with the design
The existing three arm roundabout at the north end of the Harwell Link Road (right), will be replaced with a large, five arm roundabout (see figures below).
This is completely out of scale to the surrounding infrastructure and is clearly designed for the benefit of cars and other motor vehicles, showing no understanding of the valid needs of cyclists and walkers.
This roundabout will undermine much of the effort that has gone in to promoting cycling and walking in Harwell. It must be redesigned giving walkers and cyclists fast, safe routes. At the moment, walkers and cyclist are diverted on lengthy, tortuous paths so that cars can go rapidly.
This is not acceptable in a modern society.
Why is it unacceptable?
- Walkers who want to go straight from the Harwell to Didcot will have to make three road crossings – two of which will be of two lanes of traffic (line in orange below). Vehicle users entering a road should give way to pedestrians already crossing that road. The junctions make it highly unlikely that this will happen.
- It is proposed that the access to the Harwell Link Road is a priority junction for vehicles. Pedestrians appear to be made to walk considerable extra distance to accommodate the wish to allow vehicles easy access. This is unfair allocation of the highway.
- The junctions ringed in blue are designed to allow vehicles high speed access to the roundabout. This is not in keeping with the type of access shown in Oxford County Council’s Cycling Design Standards. There is no clear provision for a separate cycle lane in the plans. While competent and confident cyclists may feel safe staying on the road and have the right to do so, the design favours high speed vehicles, making it dangerous for cyclist and very likely that cars will pull onto the roundabout in front of cyclists.
What to do about it – how to object
We need as many people to raise objections as possible.
Email to Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways delivery and operations, Councillor Liam Walker,
copying in our councillor, Mike Fox-Davies, and the council’s cycling champion, Suzanne Bartington.
Suggested subject: Please take action on Valley Park roundabout design
Dear Councillor Walker
As Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Delivery and Operations please do not accept the current Valley Park planning application for the roundabout on the B4493 east of Harwell. The current design will deter cycling and walking. The roundabout does not follow the guidance in Oxfordshire County Council’s Cycling Design Standards and should be radically amended to make it better for walking and cycling.
Oxfordshire County Council’s corporate plan 2020-24 clearly states that increased walking and cycling will help to meet its Climate Change Commitment. The proposed roundabout design will undermine this by making it unlikely that commuters will abandon motor vehicles in favour of cycling. As this roundabout is on Route 5 of the Science Vale Cycle Network, any feature that puts off cyclists could severely reduce cycling.
I would like to cycle rather than using my car but the current design would force me to use my car more frequently.
Comment on the Valley Park planning application
The page to comment is here:
We suggest you comment along the following lines:
“As a Harwell resident, I object to the proposed design of the roundabout on the B4493 east of Harwell. The design prioritises cars over pedestrians and cyclists. Please ensure the roundabout is redesigned to make it faster and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to journey between Harwell and Didcot.
The current design would increase the likelihood that I would drive a car rather than walk or cycle. Please make sure that the design follows Oxfordshire County Council’s Design for Cycling Standards and its aim for ‘good highway design, which prioritises and creates dedicated space for cycling and walking”.
Email the Vale of the White Horse District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Catherine Webber,
copying in our two local councillors, Sarah Medley and Hayleigh Gascoigne, and the Vale Cycling Champion, Eric De la Harpe.
Suggested subject: Increasing cycling and walking
Dear Councillor Webber
I am a resident of Harwell and am writing to you in your role as Head of Planning at the Vale of the White Horse. This is to complain that the changes proposed in the Valley Park planning application for the roundabout on the B4493 east of Harwell will deter cycling and walking. The roundabout does not follow the guidance in Oxfordshire County Council’s Cycling Design Standards nor will it meet the aims of the Vale to encourage cycling.
The proposed roundabout design will deter commuter and other non-leisure cyclists so that they will increasingly favour motor vehicles over cycling. As this roundabout is on Route 5 of the Science Vale Cycle Network, any feature that puts off cyclists could severely reduce cycling.
Please do not the accept planning application for Valley Park with the current roundabout plan. The design must be improved to meet the needs of all road users.
Please use your voice to encourage our councils to represent our wishes. We need to make a lot of noise because recent correspondence from the Vale shows that our concerns have been ignored in the past: “The plan for this roundabout and concerns about its design being unsuited to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders was expressed by Harwell Parish Council and local residents and were considered by the planning committee in April 2016. The highways officer had no objection and the plan forms part of the resolution to approve.” We need to make sure the highways officers object this time!
Find out more:
- Valley Park Planning application
- Latest Design and Access Statement DAS_06.03.2020 hires clean CR low res.pdf (17Mb)
- Detailed plan for the roundabout 10219 – HL – 61E B4493 Southern Site Access Corrected Red Line.pdf (1Mb)
- Science Vale Cycle Network (which includes this roundabout)